Objectives: In order to assess HPV-specific IgG characteristics, we evaluated multiple aspects of the humoral antibody response that will provide insight in the HPV humoral immune response induced by HPV infection and vaccination.
Methods: Cross-reactivity of HPV-specific antibodies induced by infection or vaccination was assessed with VLP16 or 18 inhibition using a VLP-based multiplex immunoassay (MIA) for HPV16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. HPV16/18 specific IgG1-4 subclasses and avidity were determined with the VLP-MIA in sera after HPV infection and after vaccination. Neutralizing antibodies were determined in a small subset of single-seropositive and multi-seropositive naturally derived antibodies.
Results: Naturally derived antibodies from single-positive sera were highly genotype-specific as homologue VLP-inhibition percentages varied between 78-94%. In multi-positive sera, cross-reactive antibodies were observed both within and between α7 and α9 species. After vaccination, cross-reactive antibodies were mainly species-specific. Avidity of vaccine-derived HPV-specific antibodies was 3 times higher than that of antibodies induced by HPV infection (p<0.0001). IgG1 and IgG3 were found to be the predominant subclasses observed after HPV infection and vaccination. In the small subset tested, the number of single-positive sera with neutralizing capacity was higher than of multi-positive sera.
Conclusion: Naturally derived HPV-specific antibodies from single-positive samples showed different characteristics in terms of cross-reactivity and neutralizing capacity compared with antibodies from multi-positive sera. Post-vaccination, HPV antibody avidity was approximately 3 times higher than antibody avidity induced by HPV infection. Therefore, antibody avidity might be a potential surrogate of protection.